Partners in EdTech Monday have shared their commitment to make technology available and accessible to everyone to insure continuation of learning regardless of challenges that can require closure of schools.
EdTech Monday Rwanda is a Mastercard Foundation and ICT Chamber initiative that aims to spark the EdTech Ecosystem in Rwanda.
The initiative brings together EdTech stakeholders, including the EdTech entrepreneurs, Education and technology policy makers, and EdTech consumers to discuss how to tap into the power of technology to increase learning outcomes.
At KT Radio, April 26, three panelists were discussing to see whether education technology can expand access to education.
They indicated that already several initiatives were started and more is coming to facilitate learning for every child in every corner of the country.
The Ministry of education representative said that her institution is working hard to avail audio-visual content online to facilitate learning.
“Audio-visual content makes learning simple, effective, and entertaining. It will be a solution most especially for students who don’t know how to read,” Bella Rwigamba, Chief Digital Officer at the Ministry of Education said.
For Rwigamba, that program should come here to stay.
“Parents will be able to see what is taught in class and use it to assist children during revision and homework. Users will just need to grab their smartphones, log in to the e-learning platform and enter the audio-visual section.”
As far as the Ministry of Information Communication Technology and Innovations is concerned, Esther Nkunda, Director General of Innovations and emerging technologies department explained the ‘Digital Tech Ambassadors’ initiative.
She said the ministry has already deployed 89 “Ambassadors” to train residents on using technology for education and business.
“They were deployed and linked with Village and Sector Executive Secretaries to give basic technology skills to the community. The key knowledge they have to disseminate includes the use of the internet, Irembo platform and access to learning content,” Nkunda said.
“Parents and students who have access to smartphones should visit digital ambassadors for basic training. They are available across the villages or can be accessed at their service centers across the country.”
Meanwhile, the Private sector has also got a role to play in this drive. Shadrach Munyeshyaka, Chief Executive Officer of Nyereka Tech limited, a company that sells electronic gadgets and offers IT professional training said that the logistic part of technology is still a challenge.
“Challenges to promote technology in education still exist and they are linked to costs of internet and gadgets. You all know that we import almost if not all technology equipment. This implies that students will find it difficult to start their own projects, unless the government comes in to support,” Munyeshyaka said.
His company however offered to procure quality equipment and called upon fellow investors in the sector to give the country the best equipment that would help to take technology in education to the next level.
Rwanda’s efforts to promote technology in schools intensified in June 2008 with the government introducing the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project to help children in primary schools across the country develop creative technology skills and competencies.
Twelve years down the road, the OLPC program has promoted pupils’ learning and truly revolutionized education. However, technology in schools still faces challenges including inadequate internet connectivity in schools.
“The internet connectivity has reached 54% in schools, we still have a long way to go,” Rwigamba said during the Ed Tech program.
According to the panelists the Ministry in charge of ICT and the Ministry of Education are negotiating with Tech companies on how to lower internet cost and rollout internet in all schools.